What is quoting? In a nutshell, the term quoting stands for using statements, phrases, or whole passages in the exact wording as in the original source.
Thus, whenever you take information and insert it directly in your text using either single or double quotation marks (depending on the style of referencing you are required to use), it will be considered quoting.
Is it a bad thing? Not really. As was already mentioned, writing an academic paper almost always requires using a variety of external sources. This is why quoting is a common technique used by students to share the exact idea of another writer in their work.
When used wisely, quotes will only contribute to the overall quality of the text – unless you overuse them.
The truth is that students often don’t feel the limits and rely on quotes too much. Yes, the use of a few direct saying will likely have a positive result if inserted logically. Yet, overusing them often has the opposite effect and can bring you a lower grade.
How Does the Abundance of Quotes Influence the Quality of Your Paper?
There are two main issues that may arise if you overuse quotes. First of all, an abundance of famous sayings can draw attention away from the actual content of your work, making a reader lose the main idea.
Secondly, relying too much on the exact wording, you risk being left with a plagiarized paper that doesn’t meet the requirements. In both cases, the result can be unpleasant – you will get a low grade or even fail.
When should you insert a quote? Here are some common instances:
- When exact wording of an authoritative writer, scientist, or another professional will support your statements;
- When the chosen phrase is commonly known;
- When the saying sounds engaging, helps drive more attention to your work, and you feel like you can’t paraphrase it and keep the same powerful effect;
- When there is a need to share a specific position of another author.
These are just a few tips on how to use this technique wisely. In the following part of our article, you will find a comprehensive guide with five ways to avoid using too many quotes in your papers.
5 Steps to Smart Quoting
Ask for Help
If you lack experience in academic writing and just don’t know how to handle an assignment right, it is never a bad idea to ask for help.
One way to get help is by asking your professor how many citations you can use in the paper.
If you don’t feel like asking your professor, you can opt for the help of a professional writing service. Expert academic writers know everything about how to write a paper to the highest standard, how to cite a poem or a book, and how many citations to include.
Is the Source Worth Citing?
If you decided to cope with the task on your own, the pro tip is always assess the quality of the source you are planning to use.
You should only rely on quotes of authoritative experts like famous writers, scientists, specialists in your field of study, etc.
Each time you are going to use a direct saying, ask yourself – is the source reliable enough to cite it?
This simple trick will help you distinguish sources that really matter from secondary ones. It will let you reduce the number of citations added.
Does It Fit Well?
Another important question is whether a chosen quote fits well in the context of your paper. Will it contribute to reaching the purpose of the work? Does it support your main idea?
It may sound good and draw attention, but if there is no actual value for the work, then you should avoid using it.
Take Notes Wisely
Another helpful trick is to use effective note-taking strategies.
Before you get to writing a paper, you will likely read a whole bunch of sources. You can prevent citation overkill already at this stage by taking notes in your own words.
Here is what you can do:
- Read a particular source;
- Write down the key ideas in your own words right after you finish reading;
- Re-read the information;
- Take your time to process the obtained data, evaluate it, and reflect the most important ideas in the form of short remarks.
Doing so will help you evaluate the material, understand it better, and reflect on it in the paper without using direct quotes.
Finally, the last and the most effective way to avoid having too many citations is paraphrasing. Students use this technique quite often to represent valuable information from external sources in their own words. This is a great way to avoid plagiarism.
Here are the key tips for effective paraphrasing:
- Read the information you find important as many times as you need. The goal here is to understand the full meaning of the original material and the main ideas presented in it;
- Take notes on the main points, keywords, and terminology that will be helpful for restating these ideas in your paper;
- Use the knowledge you’ve gained, as well as your notes, to compose paragraphs in your own words. The main tip here is not to look at the original source. Otherwise, you may unconsciously copy some statements;
- Check your piece against the original one to ensure that they are not alike;
- Check your passage for accuracy, consistency, relevancy, and value. Make sure it contains all the ideas and concepts you wanted to reflect on in your work;
- Cite it right. Even if you are not providing a direct quote, you will still have to give a reference to the source of information, and you’d better do it right. For this, use in-text citation with the number of a page.
Following these steps, you will likely create a passage that accurately shares the information and ideas of the original source. However, at the same time, it will show more of your unique style and won’t be considered as plagiarism.
The Bottom Line
Citations in academic writing can either win or break the deal. A good quote, when it matches the content and has practical value, can make your text look better and score a higher grade.
The tips above should help you avoid citation overkill. Use them to increase the quality of the text and make sure it deserves a high assessment.
Remember, the key concept behind using citations in academic writing is to be selective when adding quotes. It is vital to include only those citations that add impact to work, not draw attention away from it.